my splendid solitude

time to get comfy now:
remove the earrings, the socks, the bra
gonna go play with the blender
make somethin’ that needs a fancy straw

got movie munchies in the fridge:
prawns, olives, brie, paté
new batteries in all the remotes
I’ll watch movies for the rest of the day

think I want some hot food, too
perhaps some Chinese chicken wings
no need to cook from scratch
when there’s a freezer fulla things

oven set to 180c
bakin’ evenly, cookin’ steady
pillows ‘n blanket on the couch
‘s Sunday evenin’ – I’m so ready

all alone yet not lonely
I’m no “spinster” – no old crone
I think of myself as lucky
despite a lockdown spent alone

copyright © 2020 KPM

angel feathers

in my wee Dundee back garden
angel feathers lie scattered
freed from my mother’s wings
hope on days when I’m just shattered

she sees me when I watch the news
observes the way I weep
she watches me pray for peace
each night before I sleep

she’s sitting on my shoulder
with every poem I write
her love is always with me
every day, every night

so many angel feathers
in my wee garden in Dundee
a welcome sign that the Mom I miss
keeps her loving eyes on me

copyright © 2020 KPM

torn

worldwide, folks are watching
the chaotic descent of the US of A
& I weep as I watch with them
from my couch in Scotland, UK

like Bruce Springsteen, I was proud
to be born in the USA
now, fake news & a fake president
have swept that pride away

Scotland – though she’s better
remains a part of the UK
a watcher unable to help
as rights & fairness are eroded away

the relationship between the two countries
is intricate & intertwined
a global pandemic, enduring racism
both sides with people who act unkind

the pollution of hate & division
mar both countries’ skies so blue
I feel angry – helpless – scared
there is nothing I can do

my Stateside friends all ask me:
“why do you still care?
you don’t live here anymore –
you live waay over there!”

my Scottish friends all tell me:
“yeah, seems your government’s been overthrown
but why should that trouble you,
when Scotland accepts you as her own!”

I have good answers to both questions
they’re too lengthy to list here
but my answers are not solutions
hence the reason for my fear

I remain torn between two countries
two lands beset by strife
fear, hope, & endless prayer
is the reality of this immigrant’s life

copyright © 2020 KPM

observation

so nice
choppin’ veg
makin’ dinner for two
rain just startin’ to fall
sky her favourite shade of blue

it’s fun
yellin’ to him
from the other room
love lives in the “uh huh”
that splits the evening gloom

the joy
of watchin’ him read
as he sips that 2nd beer
though the world remains in lockdown
she’s not alone – he’s still here

best of all
is anticipatin’
climbin’ into bed
darkness hugs them both
as they lie nestled head to head

copyright © 2020 KPM

 

5 months & 3 days

overhead
the Dundee sky
resembles pond scum
pullin’ weeds outdoors
botchin’ the lyrics to Zero 7
a skip – a swivel – a hum

when
a lone ray of sun
escapes from a cloud
God, is that you?
Mom, are you there?
perhaps joy is still allowed

life
is so unstable
death by Covid or racist hate
all blood’s red – all shit stinks
wake up people
before it’s too late

copyright © 2020 KPM

sunset gin

it’s my own special concoction
utilised on those days
when I waft from room to room
in an unthinking daze
mornings when I feel unsettled
afternoons when I feel blue
after evening tea
when I don’t know what to do
made especially for those days
when I simply cannot win
a magic remedy
that I call sunset gin

no, I’m not gone tell you
what’s in the recipe
just believe me when I tell you
it restores your sanity
a quirky tri-coloured mix
of orange & pink & yellow
all angst disappears
one glass of this & you’ll feel mellow
it’s no antidote for Covid
though troubles it will drown
love me some sunset gin
it’s my solution to lockdown

copyright © 2020 KPM

sunset gin

just wanna stay in my bubble

it’s a good start to the morning
silky scented shower gel
bubbles that bathe my weary body
I face a new day of “new normal” hell

a squeeze of the Fairy bottle
prior to doin’ the breakfast dishes
sends tiny bubbles flyin’
like renewed childhood wishes

outdoors in the garden
red watering can tops up the pond
rainbow bubbles float on the surface
blue tits joyously respond

& at day’s end there’s Prosecco
dancin’ bubbles in crystal glass
alcoholic reassurance
that this too shall one day pass

copyright © 2020 KPM

Just wanna stay in my bubble

work to do

As a young black woman growing up in the States, I often protested against the unequal treatment black people received. A boomer, I protested against many other things as well: the closure of the steel mills in my home town, the unequal pay of women compared to their male counterparts, the decision to admit men to the prestigious all-woman college I was attending.

Then I moved to Scotland. And yes, as some of my new friends have explained to me, I know Scotland is not innocent; I am speaking to my own personal experience. In Scotland I found laid-back, friendly, open and tolerant people. While I did get the odd person who felt free to plunge their hands into my braided hair (never ever touch a black woman’s hair!) I was never followed around in shops. I was never asked “what are you doing in this neighbourhood.” And when a drunk man in a pub used the n-word in my earshot, the patrons in the pub physically lifted him off the barstool and ejected him onto the sidewalk; the pub’s owner barred him from the establishment for a fortnight.

“Dinny think so, mate – off you pop! Ye no gonna say that around oor Kath!”

This was miraculous to me. I had indeed moved to – as I’d been told by one of my new Scottish friends – a “civilised country.” I was able to put the placards and signs away and use my feet for dancing instead of marching. I was able to just be me, unfettered by race.

Still, I diligently kept up with the stateside news; my family and my friends were still in the States. So when news of a certain person’s presidential candidacy was announced, I took to the streets with many of my Scottish friends who – like me – realised that electing this person to office would have disastrous consequences on a global scale.

Then, on the heels of so many other innocent black people, George Floyd was murdered. I wish every day that I had not watched that video, because now I can’t unsee it.

Floyd’s death sparked a movement bigger than any I’d seen since Dr King’s fight to get voting rights for blacks and end segregation. The US. Germany. Brazil. Italy. Mexico. London. Edinburgh. My beloved bonnie Dundee did not shy away, either: BLM Dundee was born, and I picked up my signs again. Braving the pandemic along with my friends and many other outraged Scots, we took to the streets armed with masks and hand sanitizer to make our voices heard.

I thought I was done with protesting. Now at the beginning of those so-called “golden years”, all I really want to do is grow old peacefully with my partner and putter around my garden. That said, puttering peacefully is no longer an option: this is not the kind of world I want to grow old in – this is not the kind of world I want to leave to my nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. This is not the kind of world we should be leaving to young people of any colour.

Below is the speech I gave at the BLM Dundee protest on Sunday, 26th July. Thank you for reading.

* * * * * *

“Here I am again. Wondering why I am here again. Wondering why we – why people not just in Dundee – but throughout the UK, the US and other places in the world – are having the same conversation about the same wrongs.

Maybe you’re here because you have kids. I don’t have kids, but I do have 10 nieces and nephews. I am a great-aunt to 12 incredible young black men and women. I am a godmother. I am here for them. I see many people have brought their kids with them today. I also stand here for your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews. Because those children – all children – are the future: I am deeply concerned about the kind of world they have inherited, and you should be, too.

They face a world where they have to contend with a virus, which disproportionately affects black and brown people. A world where they have to contend with unstable weather and even more unstable leaders who seem happy to remain wilfully blind to the economic inequalities and daily racist slights and micro-aggressions endured by black and brown people. A world where it is potentially dangerous for black or brown people to indulge in something as simple as strolling down the street, entering their own home or enjoying a drink with their white friends in a club.

Cause make no mistake: while I am delighted and heartened that this movement has garnered so many white supporters, the fact that you are willing to stand here with me – with your black and brown brothers and sisters – here today puts a target on your back as well.

We all – everybody here – need to be mindful of that target. And we must work together to eradicate that target. That means turning up at as many of these protests as you can. It means donating whatever you can to organisations dedicated to improving the lives of black and brown people. It means signing the petitions to remove laws which unfairly impact black and brown people, and working to dismantle the “hostile environment” policy enacted by a government that sees all of us as expendable. It means you must be willing to call out racist behaviour whenever and wherever you see it. It means being willing to educate yourself, because we cannot build a better future without acknowledging and understanding the past.

The poet John Donne wrote “no man is an island….any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.” So I say to everyone present today: we are the muscle and sinew and soul of mankind. So we must continue to fight – together – against overt and covert racism whenever it rears its ugly, divisive head. Because at the end of the day, when any blood gets shed, the colour is the same: we all bleed red.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting us. Peace.”

the visitor (for LCL)

when my doorbell rang
my face broke out in a smile
cause I knew it was my friend
whom I’d not seen in awhile

Bryan Ferry was spot on:
love is the drug
so I met her with open arms
Covid be damned – I gave her a hug

into the lounge we went
so she could have a wee rest
there I read her a speech I’d written
for the next BLM protest

then, armed with iced tea
& the usual bottle of wine
we moved into the garden’s
warm afternoon sunshine

the morning rain had vanished
an unexpected treat
joyously we bared our skin
to the early evening heat

together in the garden
we spoke of everything
retaining optimism
for what the future might bring

a girl who’s entered womanhood
a woman near the end of her life
both unmindful of race or class
making plans for a world with no strife

copyright © 2020 KPM

a home in Dundee

everyone needs a sanctuary
mine’s a beige ‘n green dome
a place of love ‘n safety
a carefully created home

thoughtfully chosen
was each room’s colour scheme
to be designed around
an intensely personal theme

happy hours spent in Craft World
to make the wreath for my front door
haunting all the local shops
for the right rug for the lounge floor

with the curtains for each room
I went a little overboard
I wanted what I wanted
so the budget got ignored

lamps, cushions, bookcases
bought ‘n paid for with dispatch
bed linens, bath mats, towels
everything a perfect match

my roots are apparent
about that there’s no mystery
family ‘n friends in frames
honour my unique history

this is my home, my refuge
wherein dwell my fish ‘n me
it’s the place I love the most
my little flat in my bonnie Dundee

copyright © 2020 KPM

a home in Dundee